Legendary shlock filmmaker Roger Corman used to make a lot of Golden Turkeys, "movies so bad they're good." He made some quality films as well but was best known for Grade-Z, no-budget efforts like "It Conquered the World," "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and "Teenage Caveman," which dominated the lower half of drive-in double-bills throughout the '50s and '60s.
Part of these pictures' charm was that they were arch and silly and so awful that the audience could laugh at them and still enjoy them on a camp level.
But these days, when Roger Corman's name is on a low-budget exploitation picture, it is likely to be too disgusting to be lovable.
Being familiar with Corman's work, I went into "Carnosaur" knowing it would be bad but hoping for something campy and fun all the same. Unfortunately, what I got was another dose of glop-and-goo special effects and loads of gore - so much that the "Carn" in "Carnosaur" could stand as much for "carnage" as for "carnivorous."
The story is as ridiculous as you might expect, with echoes of "Jurassic Park" all over the place. At one point, someone even says, "It would make a great theme park!"
Set in Climax, Nev., "Carnosaur" stars Diane Ladd (twice nominated for an Oscar, and whose daughter, Laura Dern, is in "Jurassic Park"), playing a mad scientist who has been crossing various animals with chickens to genetically engineer a strain of dinosaur. Yes, that's right - chickens.
After only 18 months, she has developed the perfect strain, along with a mysterious virus that infects women, causing them to give "birth" to huge green, slimy eggs. As this process kills the women, the eggs hatch tiny tyrannosaurs, which then rapidly grow into huge monsters, eating people right and left - after graphically tearing them to shreds, of course.
Why is Ladd doing this? To repopulate the Earth with dinosaurs, a more "pure" race, and eliminate nasty old mankind.
With cheesy special effects and stilted script and direction, "Carnosaur" has all the makings of a camp classic. But as the special-effects pour on the gore and the film gets darker and slower, the fun quickly drains away.
And when the lights go up, there are fewer people in the audience than were there when the film began.
"Carnosaur" is rated R for violence, gore, profanity and vulgarity.